Human Rights Initiative 

Proposals to the Human Rights Initiative Research Fund are due November 1, 2023

The Human Rights Initiative is a joint effort of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (HSPA) to support interdisciplinary engaged research and teaching in the field of human rights with a goal of strengthening practice and the profession overall. The Initiative arises out of years of collaborative and engaged research by faculty who work and teach on topics related to human rights. 

The Human Rights Initiative receives recurring funds from the Provost's office to support grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for faculty-led interdisciplinary human rights research. Led by a group of senior faculty, the Human Rights Initiative Research Fund provides direct research funding to University of Minnesota faculty to carry out human rights projects addressing three Grand Challenges outlined in the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMTC) strategic plan:

  • Advancing health through tailored solutions
  • Fostering just and equitable societies
  • Enhancing community capacity for a changing world

The funds will support new and ongoing faculty research efforts, seed grant proposals, and graduate student projects that promote the human rights aspects of those themes. Our objective is to support our faculty to make a big impact by providing substantial funding for engaged human rights research and related outreach.

At least one principal investigator (PI) on the project must be a tenured/tenure-track faculty, contract faculty, or have a P&A appointment  in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) or the Humphrey School of Public Affairs(HSPA).  The funds may support student involvement, either from the researcher's home discipline or from the pool of graduate students enrolled in the Master of Human Rights, jointly administered by CLA and HSPA. The Human Rights Initiative encourages proposals that use an interdisciplinary research approach and engage with external partners. Successful proposals will also include a plan to extend the research results to non-specialist audiences, including communities and publics, human rights activists and practitioners, and policy makers.

Read more about the funded projects.


The review committee will consider the following criteria when reviewing applications. We realize, however, that the range of this call for proposals is broad and individual proposals will very likely not address all criteria listed here. See the current RFP for additional information.

  • Will the research make original and significant contributions to the understanding or protection of human rights globally or locally, helping to position the University of Minnesota as a leader in important human rights debates at the local, national, or international level?
  • Does the research promise to meet high standards of academic rigor or artistic excellence and make contributions to scholarly debates in the field of human rights?
  • Utilizing the lens of human rights, does the research interact with one of the University’s Grand Challenges themes? Specifically, will the research address the persistent inequalities that undermine human dignity and well-being?
  • Will the work further scholarly cooperation and knowledge across the disciplines?
  • Do the investigators have a clear and realistic plan for dissemination of the findings in academic or artistic outlets (as appropriate), as well as to promote their results to non-specialist audiences, including communities and publics; human rights activists and practitioners; and policy audiences, broadly conceived?
  • Does the research involve graduate student academic or professional training?
  • Does the research team have the capacity to accomplish what is proposed and to do so within a one-year time frame?
  • Is the proposed budget reasonable and appropriate?
  • Will the grant stimulate the development of funding from external sources?


Applications will be accepted from University of Minnesota tenured/tenure-track faculty, contract faculty, and those with P&A appointments whose scholarly research is in the field of human rights. New faculty must begin their appointment by the start date of the grant. At least one PI must be a member of the faculty of CLA or the Humphrey School; however, partnerships which reflect interdisciplinary reach are encouraged, including with faculty across other colleges and universities as well as with external partners who have important knowledge on human rights issues. Applications for the current cycle are due November 1, 2023. For further information, please read the current RFP or contact shin0148@umn.edu.

Grant Policies

To learn more about HRI grant policies on extensions and budget changes please review this document